Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…


Title: The Kiss Quotient
Author: Helen Hoang
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Berkeley
Source: Book of the Month
Release Date: June 5th, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

This book is so unique, captivating, sexy, and important.

I love romance novels, but I’ll be the first to admit that many are generic, corny, and sometimes problematic. What makes The Kiss Quotient different is that it’s the first romance I’ve read with an autistic female protagonist. Not only are her quirks and differences prominent throughout the entire book, but they’re also addressed in a way that is positive: there’s nothing wrong with Stella, she’s just a unique person. She is incredibly smart and accomplished, and loves working with data to the point where she chooses to go into work on weekends. She is also extremely sensitive to smells and sounds, gets overstimulated very easily, and has a routine that she can never break from without getting anxious.

“What would he think if she told him how difficult it was for her to do things like dancing and drinking? Going out was supposed to be fun. For her, it was work—hard work. She could interact with people if she wanted to, but it cost her. Some times more than others.”

The way Michael (the love-interest, who also happens to be a mixed-race male escort) treats Stella is also important. He pays attention to her needs and makes adjustments without belittling her or making her feel like she’s different. Consent is also a big thing for him, as there were several times when he would ask for permission or immediately stop what he was doing if Stella appeared uncomfortable. He’s not perfect, but he wants to be a good person and do the right thing. This makes it tricky for him, as his job requires that he keep his “clients” at an arm’s length and not get too attached. Things are different with Stella though and he finds himself falling for her.

I found it very easy to empathize with Stella. Being in her head, we’re given a firsthand perspective on the way she feels in certain situations and why she does or say what she does. At the same time, I understood how other characters could be confused by her behavior and have negative feelings about the way she interacts. This is most apparent in a scene where Stella meets Michael’s family and manages to insult/hurt them without even realizing she was doing it. Scenes like this were hard to read, but helped me to understand how Stella’s mind works differently than other people’s.

The romance is super cute and this book is chock-full of super steamy scenes. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who liked The Hating Game (which I loved), as I got a similar vibe with these two books.

I also loved Helen Hoang’s note at the end of the novel, where she addressed her own experience with autism and provides resources for others who want to know more about it. I never realized that such a large portion of women with autism go undiagnosed because they learn to fake “normal” behavior, even though its exhausting for them.

The Kiss Quotient was such a heartfelt, refreshing read. I feel so warm and fuzzy after reading this book!

Review: From Lukov With Love by Mariana Zapata

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If someone were to ask Jasmine Santos to describe the last few years of her life with a single word, it would definitely be a four-letter one.

After seventeen years—and countless broken bones and broken promises—she knows her window to compete in figure skating is coming to a close.

But when the offer of a lifetime comes in from an arrogant idiot she’s spent the last decade dreaming about pushing in the way of a moving bus, Jasmine might have to reconsider everything.

Including Ivan Lukov.


Title: From Lukov With Love
Author: Mariana Zapata
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Self-published
Source: eBook
Release Date: February 1st, 2018
Rating: ★★

I wanted to love this. After reading other reviews, I really thought that I would. Unfortunately, it was just okay for me.

First, the things I did like:

1. The figure skating
2. Jasmine’s take-no-shit attitude
3. Creative use of swearing
4. The banter was fun, for a little while

Now, the things I didn’t like:

1. The constant mention of characters blinking. This is my biggest complaint about this book. The constant mention of Ivan and Jasmine blinking at each other was just surreal to me. It was described like it was a voluntary action instead of an automatic human reflex. There was literally a line in the book that went something like “I blinked. He blinked. Then it was my turn to blink.” Wtf? Once would be enough, but lines like this were spread throughout the entire book.

2. The banter and sharp comebacks were fun, at first. I love hate-to-love romances, a la The Hating Game, but the bickering kept going until the very end. After awhile, it just seemed childish. Like when Jasmine was sick and Ivan was caring for her and trying to get her to take her medicine, and she just kept fighting him over it. I wanted to reach through the book and shake her like bitch just take the medicine you keep saying you want to get better so just fucking do it ugh.

3. The whole “we’re only partners for one year” thing seemed like a contrived plot device that was just kind of brushed away in the end, and Jasmine was made to feel stupid for thinking it was true, even though Ivan repeated it several times throughout the book like it was his mantra.

4. Too much of Jasmine’s inner monologue. I don’t think this book needed to be as long as it was. It seemed like there were massive chunks of text in between each bit of dialogue, which slowed down the pace and resulted in a lot of skimming from me. In contrast, there were a lot of scenes that were briefly mentioned in passing, though I feel like they could have added more to the book. Skating was a significant aspect, but very little time was actually spent on the ice.

I really did enjoy reading this book, for the most part. There were just too many things that bothered me, and I couldn’t really get past that